Turok 2: Seeds of Evil – Times Have Changed

You thought the universe was safe, did you?

Nope, someone’s trying to destroy it again! Luckily Turok is here to save the day. Yay! He just got in his afternoon nap and is ready to kick butt in several time periods. You’re not a lonely warrior anymore with Adon to keep you company. You both stand between several time portals on a floating platform in space, but the compressed monotone voice acting firmly establishes that it is the year 1998.

This first level sets a brand new tone for Turok with its setting. There’s human stuff around and you’re in a fairly modern time period compared to the prehistoric ages. It’s modern enough for there to be boats and docks. Since Turok is a time-traveling warrior this is not exactly out of place, but I feel like a unique part of the first game is gone here with no dinosaurs in sight. Instead we have Dinozoids, human-dinosaur hybrid weapons engineered by the evil Primagen to destroy the human race with no mercy. Things are looking more grim in this game and the atmosphere does have a dark apocalyptic vibe to it. The main premise is the same, save the universe, but everything feels brand new in the true spirit of a sequel.

The graphics have been upgraded quite a bit from the first Turok. Texture work is better, there’s more objects and detail in general, and the game just feels a bit smoother and less janky. It feels more like a PC game now than an N64 game with the fast movement giving it a bit of a “Quake” feeling with clearer textures. The biggest upgrade is the gunplay itself, as the enemies have proper hitboxes now. You can’t get super easy shots like Turok 1 but it is a lot more satisfying when you hit something. As a result of the new hitboxes, enemies also have weakpoints now and you’ll do more damage when hitting them in the head. The boss fights are also a bit more fleshed out now.

While the gameplay feels nicer, the motion controls are still not great unfortunately. It has a few more options but none of them worked for me. At least the core controls remain fantastic. Speaking of options there is an absolute ton of different graphics and control settings in the options, much like the first game. New to Turok 2 though is a weapon wheel, which by default is not mapped to a button. Make sure to equip that and map things to your liking at the start. I was kinda blown away as I thought that Perfect Dark was the first game to do this, but this was 2 years earlier. Maybe it goes back even further? Another nice addition is the ability to save at any point in the level, with multiple checkpoints to warp between. It’s a little more accessible than the first Turok.

ROAR!! What else do you add to a sequel to make it better? An armoured Triceratops with mounted rocket launchers of course! So cool! Like the crackly voice acting, I can see this being pretty impressive at the time, but the game design doesn’t really hold up. It’s pretty fun for a minute to just blow up everything in your path… but this section lasts a little too long for my liking. It’s a visual spectacle, but you’re just going through corridors really slowly. So many corridors. The triceratops thumps left and right with a camera bobble, in consistent Turok movement fashion. Once you “park” your Triceratops in its designated spot at the end, it feels amazing to be Turok and run around quickly again. It’s a nice amusement and change of pace at the very least.

Holy quests, Turok. Where do you even start? The structure of this game is very different with new sub-missions and goals added with an ugly quest marker over every interactive item (you can turn it off don’t worry). It’s not just “get the keys” anymore, you’re saving prisoners, activating beacons and doing actual useful things to help the universe. I find this refreshing actually and it makes each level feel a bit more unique. The levels are much bigger and it’s quite easy to get lost, but for a different reason to Turok 1. Instead of having lots of open areas, most of the design feels like it’s in a maze now with endless corridors and branching paths. With 9 or 10 things you need to do in a level, it feels a bit more stressful because you can’t afford to miss anything. You’ll get a big “nope” at the end level portal if you have missed one objective.

It honestly doesn’t feel as exciting to explore as Turok 1, despite having more things to do. There’s a stronger focus on switches and doors, rather than creative platforming. The sideways jump still exists but it’s not really used much. I was disappointed to find some objects weren’t climbable and a lot of rocks and trees that I’d be used to jumping on in Turok 1 don’t allow for that in this game. It’s more coherent and structured which is probably better game design, but it just makes it feel like every other shooter instead of Turok. There is hardly any platforming in the game at all, and it makes the shooting feel repetitive even when it’s very good.

This was my favourite level in the game, the Hive of the Mantids. It feels like a hybrid between Perfect Dark and Metroid Prime, except it came before both. It’s a very creepy combination of an advanced bug race having advanced technology. The level design itself is quite convoluted but the game has a great aesthetic variety and a bit more platforming here. The sound effects in particular add a great amount of atmosphere. You can hear computers beeping and blooping on the walls, bugs crawling in the ceiling, the echo of air passing through the tunnels, the whoosh of automatic doors opening and closing. It’s some of the best sound design I’ve ever heard quite honestly. I just loved listening to this game. The swamp level also has some impressive sound design with crickets chirping, frogs gurning and water gently rippling. It’s very unsettling with slow booming music over the top. Lots of empty space in-between the notes to feel fear.

Turok 1 and 2 are both awesome games with different strengths. Turok 2 has a bigger emphasis on shooting, and thankfully brings much better gameplay to the table. It follows the classic “bigger and better” approach to a sequel’s design instead of going for a new feeling. There’s nothing wrong with that but in the process it loses that unique “primitive” feeling of the first game while focusing on more of a survival horror feeling. I’m just glad both exist because they are incredibly fun to play. The movement is very enjoyable, the levels are interesting to explore and it’s just pure gameplay from start to finish really. It’s nice to know that as long as the universe is still functioning, Turok is out there somewhere keeping it safe from evil overlords.

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